New Jersey’s civil union law has now taken effect, allowing same-sex couples many of the rights afforded by marriage. California, Vermont, Connecticut, Massachusetts and to some extent Maine offer similar protections.
[Civil union applicant Thomas Mannix], 44, said: “The things being granted are long overdue and very important to have, so we wanted to take advantage of it as soon as it was available.
“But it was also bittersweet because it’s not full marriage. Once a separate class is made, a separate category, we get back to `separate but equal,’ which we’ve learned from the past doesn’t work.”
Ed Barocas, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s New Jersey chapter, suggested that the separate system of rights would not have been accepted had it been based on race.
Legislators in New Jersey created civil unions in December, less than two months after a state Supreme Court decision held that gay couples had a right to the same benefits as married couples.